The Red Sox and the trade deadline: What not to do edition

Hunter Golden takes you by the hand kicking and screaming and gently whispers 'let's just leave that right there.'

With all the talk about whom the Red Sox should go out and try to get at the trade deadline, there hasn’t been much discussion surrounding some of the players they should avoid. And trust me when I say – there are a lots of guys who aren’t close to worth their asking price. Here are some of the more dangerous ones.

Yovani Gallardo – Of the big(ish) names that might get moved at the trade deadline, I’d peg Yovanni Gallardo as the most likely to become a bust for whomever is unlucky enough to land him. While it’s true he’s suffered from a little bad luck this season(.310 BABIP and a 65.7 LOB%), there’s a lot more to be concerned about here.

Over the course of the past four seasons, Gallardo’s experienced a substantial decline in his ERA, FIP and xFIP. His LD% has jumped three percentage points each year since 2010, while his velocity has decreased over 3 mph over that same period of time. There are cracks all over the Good Ship Gallardo-pop, and while he might prove a decent, cost-controlled middle to back end of the rotation starter for someone – he certainly wouldn’t be worth the Brewers’ asking price.

What’s more is that the Red Sox might already have him, or at least a pitcher who’s been a mirror image of him this season. So far in 2013,  Jon Lester might as well be the same pitcher, having almost totally replicated Gallardo’s season so far. Both are rocking identical xFIPs (4.02) and nearly identical SIERA’s (4.10 for Gallardo, 4.07 for Lester). Gallardo has a 7.21 K/9 and Lester’s only slightly worse at 7.38. Even their BB/9 (3.22 for Lester and 3.40) aren’t that far off from each other.

Ben Cherington - Red Sox General Manager

Ben Cherington contemplates. (Credit: FLICKR)

Given the submarine-level trends and the idea of a Lester simulcast in the rotation, It’s hard to make much of a case that Gallardo’s not a significant overpay for the Red Sox. There may, in fact, still be a good pitcher in there, but it’s not worth it to pay to find out.

Jonathan Papelbon – Yeah he’s expensive, but let’s face it, there are plenty of reasons to not want to acquire Papelbon beyond mere dollars and cents.

His K/9 rate is not only a career low, but it looks flat-out scary once you see the three year decline in both his velocity and his swstr%. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that he’s missing bats almost 6% less than he did in 2011. His z-contact% is almost 7% higher than it was last year, and a full 9% higher than it was in 2011. While his LD% has been relatively unaffected by the drop, it probably won’t be much longer. If his velocity keeps up on it’s current trend, we’d be looking at a player with an 89mph FB in the last year of the contract. Not good.

Frankly, you’d have to question the logic of anyone who’d willingly double the cost of the current bullpen to get a guy who might not even its fourth best pitcher. Proceed with caution.

Any available 3B – The only third baseman who’ll likely be available at this year’s trade deadline will be Chase Headley, Michael Young and Aramis Ramirez. One is having a bad year, one is an awful baseball player and the other is overpaid and getting ready to look really overpaid.

For the sake of just getting him out of the way – Chase Headley had a heck of a breakout season in 2012, but he’s had a hard time translating that success to this year. He’s only hitting .229/.330/.359 with 7 HR’s and 31 RBI’s. He’s had a bit of bad luck in the BABIP department, but otherwise just seems to be having a down year. Trading him would mean that The Padres would be selling low and let’s face it – even if he wasn’t struggling, they’d only move him at the deadline if they were totally blown away by an offer. The offseason seems like the best time for them to get a premium price on him. So let’s take him off the list.

That essentially leaves us with Young and Ramirez who right now, might as well be the same player. Young is camping on a .288/.344/.414 line while Ramirez has produced to the tune of .271/.359/.414. Both have been mostly awful in the field and aren’t very good at running the bases, either. The tiebreaker is that Ramirez costs a lot more, with roughly $24 million still due to him even if the Red Sox buy out their end of his mutual option in 2015. Given the decline and the Red Sox relative depth on the left side of the infield, they won’t want to make any kind of high dollar commitment at that position, so he’s effectively out as an option.

That leaves Michael Young who is Michael Young. If he ends up on the Red Sox as anything more than a bench bat that’s being paid to sit there by the Phillies, then there’s something wrong. Just don’t count on that scenario happening because, well – he’s Michael Young – leader of leaders who refuses to sit even when it’s clear he’s no longer a full time player.

But seriously. Michael Young.

No.

The mysterious, magical proven closer – Just as an idea of poor an investment trading for a closer is in 2013 – of all 40 closers since 2011, only three of them still have their jobs. That hasn’t stopped the Red Sox and others from looking for one – and paying a lot in the process. In order to find this magnificent creature, we’ve given up Josh Reddick, Raul Alcantarra, Miles Head, Mark Melancon, Jerry Sands, Ivan DeJesus Jr. and Stolmy Pimentel in order to get both Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey back in return. All they managed to do was post a 6.48 ERA and blow 7 out of 12 combined save attempts and go on the Disabled List a lot.

So basically, we got nothing.

Let’s not do that again. In fact, doing so this time would be twice as crazy because we have Koji Uehara, who is flat-out better than any option out there on the open market. Of all MLB relievers going back to 2010, Koji ranks 8th in ERA, 12th in FIP, 11th in K/9, 1st in BB/9, 12th in cumulative fWAR, 2nd in SIERA and 2nd in Swstr%. To put that into context – he’s been better than Mariano Rivera in half of those stats. In fact, for comparison:

Koji: 2.21 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 2.49 xFIP, 11.67 K/9, 1.20 BB/9

Mo: 1.87 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 3.10 xFIP, 7.96 K/9, 1.54 BB/9

So yeah. We have a closer. A really good one. Let’s be happy about that and instead – go out and grab someone who can make it so he doesn’t have to throw as much.

Categories: 2013 MLB Trade Deadline Andrew Bailey Aramis Ramirez Chase Headley Jerry Sands Joel Hanrahan Jon Lester Jonathan Papelbon Josh Reddick Koji Uehara Mariano Rivera Mark Melancon Michael Young Miles Head Stolmy Pimentel Yovanni Gallardo

A world-class baseball nerd, baseball fan, and baseball man, Hunter Golden agreed to terms with Fire Brand of the American League in September of 2012 in exchange for an oversized baby bottle, football helmet filled with cottage cheese and naked pictures of Bea Arthur. In January of 2013, he was named Editor. He likes run-on sentences, enjoys over-using hyphens, and smelling books. When it comes to serious stuff, Hunter is a professional writer (no, really), father of two, Husband of one and whose natural habitat is Western Massachusetts and agreeable parts of Connecticut. Follow him at @hunterGbaseball on Twitter or shoot him an email at [email protected]

4 Responses to “The Red Sox and the trade deadline: What not to do edition” Subscribe

  1. SteveErlich July 18, 2013 at 10:20 AM #

    Great post. You knew Koji was good, but even I who have always been a big fan of his didn’t realize how dominant he has been…
    I’d like to stand pat. I wouldn’t mind going after Garza, so long as they don’t give up much more then a Garin Cecchini and another solid prospect, as Lester’s struggles have me concerned and thinking he may wind up on the DL before the season is over and Buchholz doesn’t have a great track record in second half returns from the DL, no matter how dominant he has been all season.
    If Ranaudo, Bogaerts, Brentz or something like that has to be in the deal, then I stand pat with what we have and tell Theo to enjoy his summer.

    • nfunky July 18, 2013 at 12:47 PM #

      SteveErlich Dude give up Cecchini and another prospect for Garza??? are you smoking crack….cecchini will be as good as if not a better hitter than Longoria in the long run so I wouldn’t trade him right now.

      • SteveErlich July 18, 2013 at 2:37 PM #

        Bogaerts profiles as a 3b long term, and Middlebrooks will be back. that will have him pretty well blocked at 3b for at least a few years. He’s the most expendable if you want to go for the win this year in my opinion. Not saying I don’t love his talents

    • johncate73 July 25, 2013 at 4:59 PM #

      SteveErlich You’d trade Cecchini but not Brentz? I’d trade three Bryce Brentzes for help in the rotation or bullpen. Seriously, Brentz would have a hard time keeping a job in the Red Sox’ outfield if he was putting up his Pawtucket stats in the major leagues. The guy is fourth outfielder material at best.
      I think Cecchini is being overrated because he doesn’t hit for any power, but you never know. He could be the next Wade Boggs. I know I wouldn’t trade a guy whose upside is Wade Boggs when I can trade a guy like Brentz, whose upside sure isn’t Wade Boggs.